Hatch Chile Farmers Worry as Competition Heats Up

HATCH, N.M. — The Christmas season here is marked by bright reds and greens, but they’re not holiday lights. Chile peppers bearing this small farm town’s name are renowned throughout the Southwest and far beyond.Whether for red chili, tamales or posole, “chile is indispensable anytime of the year,” said Raquel Soto, of Three Brothers Chile. Her family opened the shop recently after 25 years of working the fields of New Mexico. “But especially in Christmas. You can’t have tamales without chile and there is no Christmas without tamales. Yes, I can imagine Christmas without chile, but it’s just not the same.”Amid chefs’ and foodies’ appetites for the pepper that’s the trademark of New Mexico’s art, culture, food and soul, there’s a sobering reality. New Mexico chili growers are facing growing competition from China, India and Mexico, and even neighboring states like Arizona, and California. All are selling chile, some even masquerading it as the renowned Hatch variety.  Continue reading...

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